Abe’s book discusses the challenges associated with the utilisation of business and human rights principles in development projects in Africa using South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria as case studies. The author uses the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) as a benchmark in making a case for human rights approach in the implementation of development projects in Africa. The author highlights the legal challenges of business and human rights in the extractive industry while underscoring the increasing significance of the implementation of a human rights approach in corporate governance regimes in the spotlighted nations. Many economies in Africa are heavily dependent on telecommunication, energy, extractives and the financial industries. Corporations in these industries often undertake activities with significant social, environmental and human rights implications.
Corporate Social Responsibilities
The discourse on corporate accountability for human rights violations has been shaped to a great extent by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) (UNGPs), resulting from the work of John Ruggie, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights. The UNGPs were endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011 and rest on three pillars: the State duty to protect against human rights violations; the corporate responsibility to respect human rights in their operations; and greater access by victims to effective remedy, both judicial and non-judicial, for human rights violations. While the focus on the second pillar i.e. the corporate responsibility to respect human rights is increasingly scrutinized, it has mostly been done in Western academic contexts. A long overdue African perspective on what this second pillar means and entails, is starting to take shape given that the African continent continues to be the breeding ground for many human rights atrocities attributed to corporations. In this respect, Abe’s book is a meaningful welcome contribution from the legal perspective on these issues.
Dr Oyeniyi Abe’s book, Implementing Business and Human Rights Norms in Africa: Law and Policy Interventions is the foremost and authoritative text on the contentious question of the critical connections between business and human rights, and the implementation of socially responsible norms in Africa. The lucidity of the book derives significance from the clear and logical articulation of the various pathways developing countries can leverage huge abundance of natural and human resources for sustainable development. Abe’s book, therefore, serves as a critical expose of legal, institutional, and policy discourses established by states, and corporate entities to safeguard implementation of socially responsible norms. Abe’s systematic exploration of the global challenges confronting companies and how they are responding to those challenges provides a clear roadmap towards achieving the full implementation of the UN Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in Africa
Businesses operate in a globally complex, yet uncertain environment with increasing risks in numerous domains. While it is important and necessary for businesses to be able to continue to operate in these challenging times, it is essential that companies understand human rights risks of their conducts, measures to prevent, address and mitigate such risks, as well as rules and regulations to manage corporate obligations to respect human rights risks in a consistent manner. Furthermore, as the world faces tremendous challenges, including intra and inter-state conflicts, living crisis, environmental disasters, climate change, and the debate on energy justice and transition, this book argues that African states must promote investment opportunities and safeguard trade regimes that do not create the space for corporate induced human rights violations. It considers that development approach must be anchored on indices that deliver economic growth, is environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive.
This commentary responds to Fernando C. Saldivar's article 'Africa in the Economy of Francesco'. This commentary focuses on the author's main argument, which grows from the view that the tax justice movement needs to involve Catholic Social Teaching as an intellectual and moral ally in the fight for systemic reform in the global financial order. The article's main claim is critiqued on two fronts. Firstly, this commentary questions whether a moral backbone, particularly the Catholic moral niche, is sufficient to prevent tax evasion and tax avoidance by MNCs. And secondly, it is argued that the article could have advanced a deeper analysis if it had explored the nature of tax law from both the perspective of its 'spirit' aspect and its more technical aspects.
While international trade has undergone significant structural changes recently, particularly with the proliferation of new generation of free trade agreements (FTAs), the debate on the consequences of IIAs for sustainable development continues to widen and intensify. In effect, while there has been fundamental changes in the international investment landscape in terms of players (now comprising state-owned enterprises and sovereign wealth funds) and FDI direction (with emerging economies now being, not only recipients, but increasingly home states), governments are also now adopting industrial policies and development strategies that contrast with their erstwhile hands-off approach to economic development.